Monday, May 07, 2012

Homeboy Industries: The Story of Father Greg Boyle

Fast Company has an amazing story this month about Father Greg Boyle's work with ex-cons and gang members in Los Angeles.   I promise that the story will make you smile and cry... and consider how business leaders truly can help social enterprises thrive.   Father Boyle runs Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention program in the United States.  Homeboy employs ex-cons in a variety of small businesses, from a bakery to a tattoo removal service.   As this rather unorthodox priest says, ""We don't hire homies to bake bread. we bake bread to hire homies."

Source: Fast Company

What makes the story even more interesting is the role of Bruce Karatz, the former CEO of KB Home. 
Karatz ran the company for 20 years.  He made over $100 million in his final year as CEO.  However, in 2006, the SEC conducted a criminal investigation of the firm.  The Board fired Karatz.  According to the LA Times, "A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Karatz of two counts of mail fraud, making false statements in a regulatory filing and lying to the company's accountants. The panel acquitted him of 16 other charges."  Karatz joined Homeboy Industries several years ago, as the social enterprise teetered on the brink of insolvency.  While Father Boyle has a tremendous sense of compassion and a loyal following among his people, one would be hard pressed to describe him as the most financially prudent executive.   Boyle explains, "The day won't ever come when I could run GE, but Bruce could. And the day won't ever come when Bruce could run Homeboy, but I have great affection for him. Because he gets who our people are, and he's moved by them."  What Karatz has done is make a big impact on Homeboy Industries.  Through his guidance, the enterprise has put itself on much firmer financial ground.  What an interesting and unique team... not one you would ever expect... a unconventional priest who speaks the language of gang members and a convicted former CEO who once ran a nearly $10 billion company.   Together they are making a difference in the lives of many people.  It's a story of redemption and unparalleled compassion.

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